Keeshauyn ‘Skeeter’ Lofton strolled down Woodward ave. on his way to what he hoped would be the biggest pay day of his career. He could see his breath puff out like ghosts in the chilled pre-spring Michigan air.
He was tired of hustling. Tired of banging. Tired of making a measly hundred here and there to shake down some misguided punk or slap around some methed up ho. This wasn’t what life was supposed to be. Not for him.
If his poor momma could see him now.
He made the sign of the cross and said a silent prayer.
It was time for the big score. Something to set him and JoJo and lil' Mosquito up for life.
They needed to get the **** up outta Detroit. The economy was ****. The Mayer was being charged with eight felony counts. The Lions sucked. People was bustin’ out of the state like they was in prison.
He didn’t know all the details of this latest hit. But if he had put all the pieces together like he thought he had…it would pay…
‘Hey my man…you got a few bucks you can spare a brother down on his luck.”
Skeeter snapped out of his day dream to acknowledge the man addressing him.
Old dude. Raggedy jacket. Dirty. Disheveled. Obviously homeless. Wouldn’t be missed.
He was perfect for what lay ahead.
“Oh yea, my brother…lemme see what I got here for ya.” Skeeter chimed back.
He reached in his pocket and pulled out a shiny silver clip. Inside was a fat roll of dead presidents.
The beggar’s eyes lit up.
Holding the wad out so the street dweller could plainly see it, Skeeter licked his thumb and started to flip through the bills. Tens, twenties, fifties…on the outside. Hundreds on the inside.
“Oh please my man…help a brother get back on his feet. Eyes do jus about anythang for a C-note.”
Skeeter knew desperation. It was the same for all men. He saw it on the faces of those in the street. When he went to visit Jo Jos parents up on 8 mile in Eastpointe, he saw it on the faces of those in the burbs. When he was stationed over in Iraq he saw it on the faces of everyone there. The same look.
And it didn’t matter how much money you already had…you always wanted more. Weather it be for drink or drug, women or possessions…desperation was desperation.
“I’m not really down with giving out handouts, know what'm sayin.” Still flipping through the green…“You want somma dis here scratch my brother, you gots to earn it.”
“Das cool my brother…das cool. I jus aint killin nobody ya hear. Ol Busta’ here, he don be killin’ noone. I jus needs me a hot meal ya see.”
“Yea, fo sure. And I’m betting a hot bottlea’ booze too, right. Look here, it don matter to me what you be doin wit it. Once I hand it over it’s yo money, know what'm sayin’.”
The Old man did. Skeeter could tell. In fact, he knew the guy would commit murder if he was asked to. If enough C-notes were offered. Desperation.
“Yea…yea…okay. So what you need brother. You aint onea dem punks is you. You don wan ol’ Busta to toss dat salad…”
Skeeter bust out laughing.
“Naw…naw…look here old man….dis is what I need you to do… ” Skeeter looked up. Through the buildings he could see Comerica Park. And beyond it, standing tall in the distance…the Broderick Towers.
An hour later Skeeter stood at the bus stop on Witherell Street and impatiently waited. He had decided to give the old man 20-30 minutes before he went in after him. It had only been 10.
He needed to relax. He turned on his I-Pod and hit shuffle:
“To all my real gorillas thuggin'
On top of corners every day strugglin'
All the beautiful women getting' money
Washin' them dollar bills like laundry”
He thought about the circumstances surrounding his current situation. First, there had been the phone call from the Dude in Florida. Wright. Told him he knew who he was and what he had done time for. Told him they had some of the same friends. Some of the same enemies. Told him he sympathized with the way his life was unfolding.
He said: “We all make sacrifices Skeeter. You, for your woman Jo Jo…for your son Benji, the ‘lil mosquito’ I believe you affectionately call him. And for your Country. Me…well, I make sacrifices too. In fact, I’m willing to make a substantial one right now. I’m willing to sacrifice a moderate percentage of a very large sum of money. But I need you to do something for me…”
“Cos I'mma tell you like wu told me
Cash rules everything around me
Singin' dollar dollar bill yall(dollar, dollar bill yall)
Singin' dollar dollar bill yall(dollar, dollar bill yall)”
Skeeter checked his watch. 15 minutes. Long enough.
He began the half mile walk to the entrance of the Broderick Tower.
Naturally it was all fenced in, the majority of the fence covered with board on the inside… as a further deterrent to unwanted visitors. But that didn’t matter none. The man who came up from Florida, the one Wright sent to brief him on the situation, the one who called himself, ‘The Captain,’ had given him a key to the main fence.
Skeeter had given it to the bum.
As he approached the entrance he noted the old man had left it wide open. Skeeter silently cursed him. He scanned the surrounding area…noone was paying attention. He slipped through the entrance and closed it behind him…quickly moving to the side so the boarded fence would provide him cover.
Once inside he removed his I-Pod and stuffed it into the pocket of his Army jacket. He looked up at the building towering above him.
He recalled the Captains words:
“…east side entrance door. It will be unlocked. Take the first hallway south to the second door. It leads to a staircase. Take the stairs up to the 22nd floor…”
Skeeter contemplated this for a moment. He hadn’t really considered it too much until now…but 22 flights of stairs was a hike. Not so much for him, but the old man….****, he might still be climbing them.
He shrugged. Oh well, he was already here. No sense sitting around waiting.
He felt the piece in his pants pocket. Security. Just in case.
“Time to get paid.”
As he slowly maneuvered up the stairs he once again thought back to the circumstances:
First, the call from the Dude in Florida named Wright.
Second, the call from his old celly Egg. The conversation had pretty much confirmed what Wright had told him about the Broderick…only with much less detail. Oh, and the fact that Egg considered him a friend. Wright had made it clear that Egg was in fact his enemy.
At any rate Skeeter played it cool and told Egg he and his bitch were welcome up in the ‘D’ anytime. He would put him up at his crib. All lies.
It was obvious to Skeeter that Egg really didn’t know what he was getting himself into…probably only knew a small portion of the plan. That was cool.
Skeeter wondered, and not for the first time…if he himself knew anything more than just a portion of the plan. This Wright cat talked a big game. He hoped he wasn’t being played.
Didn’t much matter in the end though. Skeeter had no intention of being faithful to him.
Screw him and Screw that fag Egg.
When Wright sent his representative, the Captain, to come meet him…and apparently intimidate him into submission…Skeeter wasn’t impressed. He dealt with Detroit thugs every day. Real gangsters. Not Florida pussy’s with their suntans and palm trees shirts.
The Captain had told him:
“22nd floor. 8:00pm. April 5th. Be there on time.”
‘April fools mutha ****…” Skeeter grinned as he passed the sixteenth floor.Today was April 1st.
He figured he would skate in a little early…grab what he needed and then skate back out. Grab Jo Jo and little skeet and skate right the hell out of Detroit…out of the country…right to financial freedom.
He hoped that was the end result. The details were still a little fuzzy. At least…what it was exactly that he was supposed to retrieve from the 22nd floor. From room number 11.
All the Captain had told him was:
“Wright wants two things from that room ya see. One, a sealed black folder. There will be white writing on the cover. You won’t understand it…unless you can speak Italian. Under no circumstances are you to open the folder. Do I make myself clear? Good. Two, a set of keys. You will know them when you see them. They match the folder.”
When Skeeter asked him where the keys were, the Captain had only smiled and said:
“Once you get in the room, you’ll figure it out.”
Further inquires were fruitless. All the goon wanted to do then was drink wine and talk **** about how this Wright dude was all bad ****…how he controlled a syndicate from South Florida to South California. Skeeter feigned interest…but all the while he was seeing dollar signs.
Certainly the folder advised where the cash was and the key offered access. By the time those queers showed up and figured out what happened he would have the money and would have his family on a plane to someplace warm in the Caribbean.
He put his ear to the door leading out of the stairwell and unto the main floor.
He heard shuffling footsteps. He smiled.
And by the time that Florida pansy Wright found out he had been screwed over, well, he would be chillin’ on a beach in…
A voice from the other side of the door: “Noooo…please…”
The old man. Skeeter smiled again. He had served his purpose. Nice decoy.
Gun now out and held firmly, he slowly reached out his hand for the door handle.
“He sent me…the guy in the army jacket….he promised me money…”
Skeeter slowly cracked the door and peered through the opening. He could see the old mans back…he was slowly retreating away from someone.
He was just about to swing the door wide and rush in firing. Just like in Iraq.
When he felt something cool poke him in the back of the head.
“Don’t…even…think about it.” A woman’s voice.
“Slowly set the gun down. And don’t be a tough guy…I won’t hesitate to blow the top of your melon head off.”
Silently cursing himself for allowing someone to sneak up behind him, Skeeter inched toward the ground to deposit his weapon. His hand was an inch above the ground, the piece dangling from his loose fingers…when,A gun blast from the other side of the door…